FindBugs(tm) actually does it

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I heard about FindBugs(tm) while listening to one of the Java Posse podcast. Since Hibernate Annotations and Hibernate EntityManager are very close to their respective final releases, I decided to give it a shot.

FindBugs(tm) is basically a static code analyser that tries to find bugs in your code through some pattern recognition. I have been working in the past with both static and dynamic code analysers and I have been pretty disappointed by their false positive ratios (basically a non-bug considered as a bug), and the complexity of their set up process. FindBugs was a refreshing experience.

The cool stuff about it is, well, there are several cool stuffs:

  • it's a no brainer to set up and run
  • the amount of false positive is surprisingly low
  • it works at the bytecode level, so you don't have to have the source code (more later)

Set up and Run

I haven't read the documentation, just downloaded the package and run the .bat file. A couple of clicks and I was analysing Hibernate Annotations and Hibernate EntityManager . No fancy Ant integration required (you can, but you don't have to), no fancy IDE dependency (you can, but you don't have to), no fancy command line requiring you to RTFM (you can, ahem you should, but you don't have to). The provided GUI does the job pretty smoothly, even if a package filtering feature would have been really cool (more later).

A pretty low false positive ratio

THE thing that usually kills such a product is the amount of false positive bug claims. You end up scanning hundreds of warnings without paying attention to them and trash the whole product after 30 minutes. FindBugs has a pretty low false positive ratio, which is very good. And if the warning end up being a false positive, there are usually some good reasons that worth a second look at your code. I must admit I am pretty proud of me ;-) Of course in HAN and HEM, I found some bugs and suboptimal constructs (no worries, I fixed them), but much less than my expectations.

Work at the bytecode level

That is probably what makes it easy to use (and hard to develop), FindBugs(tm) works at the bytecode level, not the source level (it highlights the source line if the sources are available). So pointing a jar or a directory containing your compiled classes is enough. Actually what I did, was pointing to my project root directory, and the job was done.

So while analysing Hibernate Annotations and Hibernate EntityManager , I ended up analysing a bunch of jars (Oh Filter, where art thou?), and I can tell you some guys out there should take a look at FindBugs(tm) , this include a bunch of JDBC drivers and well known in-memory Database backed by some big company(ies) ;-)

Give it a try

It's free, it's easy to set up, it's going to take two hours of your time and save you much more.

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